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Brett Rivkind
Brett Rivkind
Attorney • (305) 374-0565

A Vicious Sexual Assault By A Crewmember On A Passenger Aboard Holland America Cruise Ship

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It has been reported that a crewmember from Indonesia violently attacked a passenger aboard the Holland America cruise ship the MS Niew Amsterdam, a passenger ship that departed from Port Everglades on February 9, 2014 for a cruise.

The worker’s name has been released.  His name is Ketut Pujayasa and he is 28 years old.  See the article about this incident, and a picture of this crewmember included in the article.

The woman is reported to be 31 years old, but no further details about the identity of this woman has been released yet.

The woman did lose consciousness, and was airlifted to a South Florida hospital for treatment for serious injuries.  She was badly beaten and raped.  The crewmember was trying to throw her overboard, realizing that he could get rid of the evidence of his crime by throwing the body overboard.  There have been many reports of passengers going overboard where the bodies are never found.  Without a body, it is very difficult to prove a crime was committed.

However, the 31 year old woman did fight back, and was able to escape before getting thrown overboard.  It’s reported that the assailant stopped because of persistent knocking on the stateroom cabin door.  The crewmember had hidden out on the balcony waiting for the passenger to return, gaining access to the cabin by using his master key he had that was to gain access to all the cabins since he was a stateroom attendant.  He claimed he was insulted by the lady and found her remarks very offensive to him and his family.  This is the reason he sought her out to commit this violent act.

It is unreported whether this worker has any type of psychological or psychiatric problems in the past, or a tendency to perform violent acts, or a criminal past.  Since crewmembers are hired from third world countries, it has been my experience in my 30 years of handling cruise ship cases, including sexual assault cases, that the cruise ship companies do not regularly perform adequate background checks on the crewmembers to determine if they do have any criminal records.  Many times a crewmember with a criminal past will find his way onboard a cruise ship.  His criminal past is only discovered after he commits yet another crime.

Under Maritime law, the cruise ship company will be liable for the acts of this cabin steward.    Although, the act is intentional, the law places strict liability on the cruise ship companies for intentional acts of the crewmembers performed on passengers.  The law is different if the attack was by a crewmember to another crewmember.

I have been acting as safety advocates for those harmed at sea for decades.  I have also been an invited speaker before the United States Congress to address cruise ship safety and security, including crimes onboard cruise ships.  Congress finally recognized that crimes onboard cruise ships was a serious problem that needed to be addressed legislatively.  Eventually, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed by President Obama to address many concerns regarding cruise ship safety, including sexual assaults onboard cruise ships.

We wish this lady all the best in her recovery.  We know it will be a very long recovery, and a lot of psychological counseling will be necessary to deal with this horrific event that occurred to her during what was supposed to be a pleasurable cruise.  The crewmember has admitted to his actions and thus should be appropriately penalized under the criminal laws.  Since it was an attack on a United States passenger on a cruise ship leaving a Florida port, United States criminal law will be used to prosecute this crewmember.

It remains to be seen whether Holland America knew or should have known of any propensities of this crewmember for committing violent acts.